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Do we poop plastic?

home detox self-care Apr 12, 2021

In recent years, I have become more appreciative of how informative—revealing—poop can be. 

Since becoming a mom, I have become curious (prompted by our pediatrician's questions) about my children's poop—wondering about its consistency, color, and how frequently they eliminate.

 
 
 
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This article spotlights something less well-known: plastics in our poop.  Seven tips to reduce our consumption of plastics are also shared further below.

Yes, we poop plastic

Recently, I have been reading about fertility (or infertility) trends to prepare for some upcoming podcasts (as both a guest and a host).

I read about a small study of eight participants from several countries: Finland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, Italy, Austria, and Poland.

Each participant had a variety of plastics in their human stool. Nine out of ten common plastics were detected (Thompson 2018).

I see a silver lining, however.

The opportunity

While there is a lot that we cannot control, there are also many simple ways we can reduce plastic in our poop. The ways through which we can reduce plastics in our poop will also improve the health of our ecosystems, food supply, drinking water, and future generations.

Below are some tips.

 
 
 
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7 tips to reduce plastic in your poop

If you become more attentive to the plastics in your home, diet, and purchases, then you can reduce plastics in your poop.

By becoming more aware of the ways in which plastic is in your life, you can then wonder if you can make a plastic-free choice. This is great for so many reasons. For example, not only do our oceans contain patches of plastic (the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 2x the size of Texas or 3x the size of France), but we are also ingesting (and pooping) plastics from our food supply, drinking water, and house dust.

Below are tips to reduce plastic in your life (and in your poop!).

  1. Minimize eating foods and drinks that have been in touch with plastic. The longer it’s been touching plastic, the more likely it contains toxic chemicals and microplastics . Instead, increase your intake of homemade meals and snacks that are stored in glass and stainless steel containers and wrapped in unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Minimize buying textiles—clothes, window treatments, rugs, carpets, toys, furniture, etc—that are made of synthetic fibers. Choose natural fibers instead—like organic cotton, wool, and hemp.
  3. Prioritize cleaning your home. Microplastics have been found in our air and house dust. An effective air filter helps too and a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  4. Avoid plastics in your products by checking your products at @beat_thebeads https://www.beatthemicrobead.org/. I continue to be surprised by where plastic is present. For example, two of the most surprising places to me were toothpaste and mouthwash! To see if yours has plastics, research them at BeatTheMicrobead.org.
  5. Choose plastic-free when you can.
  6. Visit Nontoxic Living at Amazon, my curated Amazon store for some of my household staples.
  7. Remember: Small detox tweaks can transform.
 
 
 
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In summary...

Ninety percent of ten common types of plastics have been found in our poop. Is this karma?

This reminds me of the many examples of karma in A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Our Toxic Exposures; i.e., our harmful production and use of plastics (and other risky materials) create a toxic environment that harms us ultimately. For example, chemicals in plastics have been found to cause endocrine disruption, which poses complicated risks to human reproduction, development, and much more.

The pollution we (mostly inadvertently) support ends up in our diet, drinking water, and home (indoor air and house dust).  The toxic chemicals, heavy metals,  and microplastics in our poop is one of many reminders of this.

Yet, we can contribute to healthier changes with the simple steps above to reduce plastic in what we buy, own, and do. I hope you will join me on this journey to become a more conscious consumer.

Select sources

Lee, Bruce Y. "Microplastics Found In The Ocean And In Human Poop." Forbes. 2019 Sep 3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2019/09/03/microplastics-found-in-the-ocean-and-in-human-poop/?sh=200effac37a4

Neimark, Jill. "Microplastics Are Turning Up Everywhere, Even In Human Excrement." NPR. 2018 October 22. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/10/22/659568662/microplastics-are-turning-up-everywhere-even-in-human-excrement

Schwabl, Philipp et al. "Detection of Various Microplastics in Human Stool: A Prospective Case Series." Annals of Internal Medicine. 2019 Oct 1;171(7):453-457. doi: 10.7326/M19-0618. Epub 2019 Sep 3. https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M19-0618

Thompson, Andrea. "Microplastics Have Been Found in People's Poop—What Does It Mean?" Scientific American. 2018 October 24. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/microplastics-have-been-found-in-peoples-poop-mdash-what-does-it-mean/

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